sometimes a bad day leads to good things. a funny plurality. and a comforting one.
yesterday, i spent the majority of the day feeling bogged down and out of sorts- suddenly a bit angry and confused by life. my life. and, off and on, i thought "go bury yourself in a book. get out of yourself and in to something else". and, of course, i waited until evening to listen to my own fine suggestion. i am stubborn that way. and of course, once i obeyed the call to read, i felt endlessly better. the benefits of reading have been widely praised by everyone starting with our kindergarten teachers. and it's all true too. i don't really know why, culturally, reading has fallen out of favor in terms of "for fun" activities, or why i have gone down that same road since graduation... but it is something i have felt uneasy about this entire past year and a half. i have felt out of sorts and without a good guide.
lately, i've been day-dreaming my own memories back in to the present. the Big One being my final year in school when i would read every morning on the train - a 45 minute ride to campus - and then again on the train back home. and of course there was all the reading i had to do at school, for homework, reading as research for papers, theory to explore, philosophy, poetry, supreme Texts, and Text-based Art as well. reading, looking back, was king. the most dominant and influential activity in my life. more and more, i have missed this way of living and have wanted to go back to that practice for a very long time... pretty much since the moment i set it down. i have resolved to add reading to my waking rituals from here on out- after my morning 'coffee and notebook' time, and before The Almighty Jog- right at the start of the day. i will get back on my beloved and horribly missed, longed after 'train'.
and so, this morning as i stirred in bed as i woke, i remembered something i'd read yesterday on a poetry website that said "Serious writers are serious readers"... and i thought about our dear sweet Radish King's constant assertion (and healthy affirmation) that reading is just another form of writing... so i got out my readers from class. they are here in a big stack- the ones i felt closest to my senior year and the ones that feel significant and relevant to my life at present, to my practice, as it is, today, and i jumped right in:
i read 'The Death of the Author" and "From Work to Text" by Roland Barthes. HA! big stuff to begin the day with and, magically, is about everything i was just speaking about. :) especially the fact that, historically, reading and writing were viewed by society as a single act in spite of it's plural nature- much like how a musician practices: she is both playing and listening at the same time. the separation between reading and writing is a fairly recent social change. dividing these things isn't good and, for me, has been fairly detrimental to all sorts of things. i am a person that likes ideas. LOVES ideas. and by cutting myself off from an entire side of language (reading), no wonder i haven't felt necessarily good. no wonder, i have felt that my writing, as a practice, has suffered. no wonder i feel less able to answer Art's call in a lot of ways. no wonder my stamina has slipped.
the two essays deal with much more than what i'm reacting to right now- lots of heavy shit that i will take in pieces and most likely re-read again and again. but it is the focus on being plural that struck me so deeply today and offered such a wonderful comfort.
because it is true that 'what you put in is what you get out'... and if i put big ideas in myself, those big ideas will work themselves back out on to my canvas and across the blue lines of my notebook... my practice becomes more whole... deeper... a way of living. in this sense, it is life imitating art, not the other way around... and that's the way it should be. if not life imitating art, than what are the lessons of art for? this isn't to say that artists are nothing more than copyists, spewing out the lessons they've taken in. that is not what i am saying. i am saying that artists must digest ideas, live with them, process them, roll around in bed with them... and whatever transpires while you are rolling around, whatever change or mutation or inspiration has taken place, will find its' way back out on to the canvas, inside a poem, in the stitches of whatever it is one builds.
all this to say, reading is God. or it needs to be. language, study, wrestling with meaning, making meaning plural, deciding against the mandate that a person reduce herself to a singular entity: mother ONLY. daughter ONLY. soldier ONLY. writer ONLY. no. that is not the way to live. that is not the definition of 'human'. to be human is to be a collection of things- ideas, outlooks, 'titles', cares, concerns, activities, and approaches. this multiplicity is essential... even if only in reference to a person's own sanity and happiness. you cannot cut yourself away from your shadow... no more than reading should be separated from writing... because what is the point of writing if no one reads. writing goes beyond its' action... when it is experienced by another (the reader... even if 'the reader' is just yourself) it is activated, it thrives, it is constantly in the NOW, the present. it breathes. the work goes and continues and survives. and so too humans should survive- constantly plural, irreducibly plural. a multitude.
i won't worry myself anymore over choosing a single title for myself. or at least i will fight that worry when it finds me. i will read and create a deeper life- a more inclusive, benevolent life... a life that strives to practice the lessons that ART teaches.
and this is me when i read big things first thing in the morning, hopped up on coffee. :)
these texts are an archive of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area from march 2007 - march 2015. it stands as a record of close to a decade of my life, charting the struggles i faced as an artist, daughter, and lover. messy and chaotic at times, eloquent and poetic at others, these texts are an index i am proud of. it was here in this electric box that i learned how to be honest about my experiences and the person i needed to become. it was here that i first learned the truism that words make the world and how to trust such a beautiful, rife, hard fact.
thank you for meeting me here in such tall grass.
my artist website is here.
my artist website is here.